Renee Lawrence loves serving meals to customers at her café in Black Rock, and the customers love her
charm and delicious food.
Before assuming ownership of the business she renamed Renee’s Café in 2002, Renee worked as a waitress “for as long as I can remember,” including a long stint at the former Barry’s Truck Stop in Jonesboro. Her experience benefits customers, as I observe prompt service with smiles from Renee and her team during my visit to the roadside restaurant.
Local resident Jerry “Rooster” Gillam says, “I’ve never had a bad meal at Renee’s, and I usually have a couple meals there each day.” Rooster joins a friend from Craighead Electric Cooperative of Jonesboro and me on the visit, so we let him serve as our menu guide.
Renee’s Café serves breakfast daily and features meat and vegetable specials that vary from day to day and come with a choice of homemade cornbread or a roll. On this visit, meats include: roast beef, hamburger steak, taco salad, homemade soup, pork roast, chicken-fried chicken, pork steak, spaghetti, fried catfish and chicken-fried steak. Vegetables include: blackeyed peas, brown beans, green beans, pickled beets, fried okra, corn, English peas, fried green tomatoes, squash, potatoes and gravy, Brussels sprouts, tossed salad and pinto beans.
We try the beef tips over rice with sides of corn, fried okra and mashed potatoes and gravy. The rich brown gravy tastes great on the tender beef cubes and fluffy white rice. The sides are equally good.
Cooked to a golden-brown crispiness and topped with a stick-to-your-ribs white gravy, the chicken-fried chicken would make any Arkansan smile with joy. Brown beans and tossed salad make excellent sides.
When I ask Renee about signature dishes, she grins and tells me she’ll be right back. She returns with three inspired original creations.
The first plate is the Sir Charles Burger. This burger is piled high with two beef patties, a slice of fried bologna, a
few strips of bacon, a few slices of American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, mustard, mayonnaise and maybe a few other things. After carefully devising my plan of attack, I savor each bite and the onion rings that accompany Sir Charles on his visit to my taste buds.
Next, I try The Horseshoe. This platterful of yum features a slice of Texas toast covered with a beef patty, french fries, bacon crumbles and melted pepper jack cheese. The cheese provides a unique kick that keeps me going back for another bite.
The restaurant is known for its fabulous chili, and it is the star of Renee’s Burrito Salad, a one-of-a-kind innovation. The salad begins with a bed of iceberg lettuce, which is topped with a burrito, covered with homemade chili and served with sour cream and salsa. The different textures and flavors make this my favorite dish of the visit.
I can see why my new friend Rooster enjoys dining at Renee’s Café so often. The menu changes daily, and the options are pretty much unlimited. There simply isn’t a wrong choice.